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I think I am spending too much time cooking every day. I would love to get on some sort of a schedule, and also want to get more organzied in my grocery shopping. I would like to start buying more organic things from a local co-op as well. My DD is just starting to eat table foods like we eat, too. I live in the middle of no-where, and DH and I rarely eat out (not even once a month). I try to fix a 'square meal' every night, as DH works hard manual labor all day. We also eat leftovers for lunch the next day. Currently our grocery bill is abou $100 a week. I have a beef in the freezer, and buy our chicken from a local free range poultry place (EXPENSIVE!!! but well worth it). Our local farmers market just opened up, so I'm trying to buy more there. What can I prepare ahead of time? I'm looking for about 1-2 weeks worth of recipies ( I love to cook), each need to have a meat, potatoe or pasta, 2 veggies. I need easy to prepare b/c my toddler doesn't like for me to spend much time in the kitchen (or maybe suggestions on what to do w/ that toddler when I am cooking :LOL ) Has anyone done this? I am going to start out today by making a list of meals for the next 2 weeks, then go thru my cabinets and make a shopping list. Any tips would be greatly appreciated.
 

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Yes, I think batch cooking is the way to go, esp. if you have a freezer. I cook beans in big batches, buy meat in bulk when it's on sale. I even do grains in bulk. I've frozen quinoa successfully.<br><br>
I don't always do full dishes ahead of time, but do the pieces. Then it's easier to put it all together. For instance, I do the sauces and then all I have to do is cook up the pasta. Or I take out a bag of frozen garbanzos and toss them into a salad. I often do soups and then just defrost and put in the crockpot to rewarm. A side salad and maybe some bread or crackers completes the meal.<br><br>
Whatever you decide to do, if it's planned, it will go smoother! Even if I am not just taking something out of the freezer, I always know what we're having that evening and start thinking about it and doing it in steps throughout the day. This has been vital since having a little baby again. I can only do things in small doses of time!
 

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I have a theme for each day of the week for our main meal, and a few different things I rotate through for breakfasts and lunches. It has worked for me, but it's not perfect. I have a picky dh <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/eyesroll.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="roll"> And while he says he doesn't want to each much/any meat in the summer, he doesn't really like anything I can substitute for it.<br><br>
Here's my schedule, if it helps:<br>
Mon - Tuna and Egg toasted buns (a fave that his mom made, basically just toasted buns with tuna salad and egg salad mixed up on them, with grated cheese)<br>
Tues - pasta of some kind<br>
Wed - fish<br>
Thu - mashed potatoes and something to go with them<br>
Fri - breakfast for dinner<br>
Sat - something involving tortillas<br>
Sun - something make ahead -- lasagne, bean casserole, stew, etc.<br><br>
I actually really don't like what I have chosen to go on the schedule, it seems rather boring, but it has served to compromise between all of us. I rotate through eggs, oatmeal, and yogurt & toast for breakfasts, and beans, sandwiches, and soup or salad for lunches.<br><br>
Looking back over your message, I don't really think that this is what you were looking for, but since I typed it out, I'll leave it there. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/duh.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="duh"><br><br>
You said each meal has to have a meat, potato or pasta, and 2 veggies. If you're looking to cut down on prep time, one thing I like to do is have containers of cut up fresh veggies and do build-your-own salad. Then I also have something like 3 bean salad, egg salad, cottage cheese, etc. to go on the salad. For meats, I like to do up a roast or bird or whatever, and freeze it in small baggie portions. Then it's ready for meat gravy on potatoes or bread, for sandwiches or fajitas, to go in a salad, soup, or pasta casserole with a cream or cheesey sauce.<br><br>
Try googling "once a month cooking". If freezer space is limited, you can make up dry mixes for things.<br><br>
Include your toddler in what you are doing! I find things are the hardest when I just want to get it done. Don't underestimate her ability or how amused she will be by simple things. My toddler likes to peel eggs, mash stuff, put cut up veggies in a container, take scraps to the pets or put stuff in the garbage, pour on sauces, shake on salt/pepper, eat cheese I'm grating <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngbiggrin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="orange big grin"> , put bread in the toaster, open/close jars, cut up buttered bread with a butter knife to go with soup or beans, lots of things. If I have something hot on the stove that I have to work on for a while, I give him his own pot with stuff (jar lids, small gladware containers, dishcloths, whatever is handy) in it on the floor, or the boys stack spice shakers, or they set the table. There are some great ideas for amusing toddlers/kids at <a href="http://www.magicalchildhood.com" target="_blank">Magical Childhood</a> .
 

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I made a list of my top 20 favorite recipes. I just pick stuff off the list at the beginning of the week and go shopping. Then if I want to try something new, I just check into some of the cooking websites on-line. It works really well for me. Otherwise, I'd forget my favorite dishes all together!<br>
Chrissy <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/caffix.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="coffee">
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>SpiralChrissy</strong></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I made a list of my top 20 favorite recipes. I just pick stuff off the list at the beginning of the week and go shopping.!<br>
Chrissy <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/caffix.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="coffee"></div>
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So what are these 20 favs? I've got problems, I can't seem to cook the same thing twice, although maybe it would make my life easier? I just love to experiment, so I'm interested in seeing how you rotate these favs.
 

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Well, I love cooking and ethnic foods are my favorites. I just rotate things around so I don't have the same type of meal 2x in a row. (no pasta right after pasta, etc.)<br>
My favorites are peanut chicken with noodles, taco night, chicken with cheese, undo noodle bowl with beef, crockpot tortilla soup, kabobs on the grill, quick and easy margarita pizza, Grandma's beef stroganoff, psycho chicken, pasta salad....<br>
to name a few. I also get Cooking Light magazine so I have lots of fresh ideas in there. I was just looking thru my old issues this morning.<br>
Does that help??<br>
What's your favorite thing to cook??<br>
Chrissy
 

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<div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>SpiralChrissy</strong></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">undo noodle bowl with beef</div>
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:LOL Uh, how do you undo noodle bowls? :LOL I like cooking soups, pasta, polenta. Last night I made enchiladas and they were so good, I really ought to cook Mexican more, it's my fav.
 

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I love Mexican foods too. I'll have to try taco salads again soon.<br>
As far as the undo noodles, I think it's certain kind of noodle or something. I just buy a pack of Ramen and use those though! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngbiggrin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="orange big grin"><br>
Chrissy <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/wink1.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="wink1">
 

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Chrissy, can you post your chicken and cheese dish, along with the crockpot tortilla soup?<br><br>
That would be great. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"><br><br><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/dishes.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="dishes"> Lisa
 

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Lisa-<br>
I'm honored that you want my recipes! I'm happy to share. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/wave.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="wave"><br><br>
The chicken recipe comes with a story. I got this recipe from my best friend Jen. Her mom used to make it all the time. It's easy and tastes good so it was a standard at her house. One year, when Jen's mom made it for Xmas Jen's tiny little sister looked up at her plate and said "Mom are we having that DAMN CHICKEN again tonight?" And so, this recipe has been officially renamed DAMN CHICKEN. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/biglaugh.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="laugh">: <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/biglaugh.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="laugh">:<br><br>
Damn Chicken<br>
4 chicken breasts<br>
1 can of cream of chicken soup<br>
Splash of white wine or vegetable broth<br>
8 oz of sliced swiss cheese<br>
StoveTop Stuffing (you want the kind that comes pre-mixed)<br>
2 Tablespoons of melted butter<br><br>
Place chicken in greased baking dish. Layer cheese over chicken. (I usually go a little light on the cheese.) Splash wine or broth over chesse. Sprinkle stuffing mix over chicken. Spoon melted butter over stuffing. Cover with foil. Bake at 350 for 30mintues. Uncover and bake another 15-20mins until chicken is done.<br><br>
YaYa Tortilla Soup (I always make this one when my womens group comes over for meetings.)<br>
1 chopped onion<br>
2 cloves garlic, minced<br>
1/2 c. chopped bell pepper<br>
1 thinly sliced zucchini<br>
1 thinly sliced yellow squash<br>
16 oz. bag frozen corn<br>
2 cans veggie broth<br>
1 28oz can diced tomatoes<br>
1 or 2 cans tomato sauce<br>
1/2c. chopped cilantro<br>
1/2 t. cumin<br>
1/2 t. chili powder<br>
1 lime<br>
shreaded cheddar chesse<br>
tortilla chips<br><br>
Saute first 4 ingredients in a little olive oil. Toss everything into crockpot (except cheese, chips and lime) and cook on low for about 6 hours. Before serving, add tortilla chips and sprinkle with juice from lime. Serve with cheese. Sometimes I put in 2 cups cooked chicken and if I want some extra spice I'll add jalepeno slices.<br>
Have fun!<br>
Chrissy <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/dust.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="dust">
 
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